Al Jazeera’s Wardrobe Malfunction

The Short version:

Time: A few months ago.

Action: Eight female journalists working for Al Jazeera network signed an official complaint against Deputy Editor Ayman Jaballah, stating that they have been harassed by his comments on their appearance.

Reaction: The network ordered an investigation.

Then:

Time: Last month.

Action: The network reported it was within its legal rights to dictate the appearance of its on-air presenters.

Reaction: Five of the eight presenters quit in protest.

The Long version:

Lina Zahreddine, one of the five Al Jazeera presenters to resign. Image via Al Jazeera.

In an action that was described as first of its kind in the world of Arab satellite channels, last January eight female presenters for the Al Jazeera network filed an official complaint against Ayman Jaballah, a deputy editor known for his conservative views and his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Lebanese daily Al Safir. Jaballah allegedly harassed them because their clothing and makeup were not modest enough. The result of the network’s investigation into the matter defended Jaballah:

“The on-screen style and general appearance of broadcasters and announcers are the legal right of the network to determine and develop,” it ruled, adding that it had to take into account “the spirit and principles of the channel and the image it wishes to present”. (sic)

“Al Jazeera, in line with its policy of rejecting arm-twisting, has accepted the resignation of the five rebellious presenters,” an official from Al Jazeera told Al Quds Al Arabi. Al Jazeera also appointed Jaballah (whose attitudes were cited in the petition by the presenters as a major cause for their resignation), head of the Al Jazeera Live channel.

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